Watty Graham's Glen 0-10 Emmet's Slaughtneil 1-16
Ulster champions Slaughtneil recorded a nine-point victory over rivals Watty Graham's in this rearranged fixture to go top of the H & A Derry Division 1 on Tuesday night.
As their league campaigns resumed, both teams were down a number of key men, Glen captain Ciaran McFaul one example, now rubbing shoulders with one Diarmuid Connolly over in Boston. With the departure of Terence McWilliams last week, this was also Slaughtneil's first league match under their new management team.
The opening stages of the game were quite frayed, possession changing hands a number of times before the visitors took control. Oran McGill had to be alert to make a timely block on Sé McGuigan and Callum Mullan-Young showed concentration and strength to claim a high ball in his box under pressure from the Emmet's forwards.
Gerald Bradley then took advantage of a fumble in the Glen defence, punishing the mistake in swift fashion by raising the first white flag of the game, before Stephen O'Hara hit back immediately up the other end.
Chrissy McKaigue then lofted over his first point of the day, breaking free of a tenacious Emmet Bradley before finishing from outside the opposition 45m line. Gerald Bradley then added his second of the match from a free as the All-Ireland semi-finalists found their rhythm, netting the only goal of the game.
A high ball into the Slaughtneil forward line was nicely fielded by Shane McGuigan, who rolled his man and finished neatly past the onrushing Callum Mullan-Young to give the visitors a five-point lead.
Connlan Bradley responded for Watty Graham's, collecting the ball and swinging over right-footed before Danny Tallon slotted a free to reduce the gap to three.
Chrissy McKaigue then hit a lovely score from the right flank, shrugging off the attentions of the Glen defenders before firing the ball home from a narrow angle before Glen again hit back through Connlan Bradley. The full-forward collecting a pin-point Cathal Mulholland pass and sending it over.
McKaigue then hit his third of the game from centre-back, receiving a hand-pass from Pádraig McGuigan and landing another long-range effort as Slaughtneil began to turn the screw. Connlan Bradley again responded for Glen, collecting the ball in front of his man and swinging it right-footed between the sticks.
Shane McGuigan repeated the trick as part of a quick-fire brace of points, receiving the ball wide on the left, selling his man the dummy and pointing left-footed before sending over a free minutes later.
An example of Slaughtneil's defensive organisation was superbly executed after Danny Tallon dispossessed Francis McEldowney on his way out of half-back. Glen were unable to capitalise on the opportunity as the visitors immediately got the numbers back to frustrate the attack.
Substitute Brian Cassidy got the second half underway in some style, racing out to win the first ball in from Chrissy McKaigue before turning and dispatching it between the posts. McKaigue himself then followed up with another rousing long-range effort, firing long over the top of the Glen defence and over the bar to leave the Emmet's men nine to the good.
A strong run down the Glen left from corner back Connor Carville ended with him laying the ball into the path of Cathal Mulholland, only for Antoin McMullan to pull off an acrobatic save, pushing the ball over the bar for a point.
Danny Tallon tapped over another free for the hosts before McMullan was in action again, getting down low to deny Tallon a certain goal, and tipping an Emmet Bradley effort over the crossbar as Glen began to push forward.
Up the other end, Callum Mullan-Young was left scrambling as a wayward Slaughtneil shot ricocheted back off his crossbar before Shane McGuigan restored some order to proceedings with a pointed free from 30 yards.
A long-range Emmet Bradley effort slipped through the fingers of Antoin McMullan as it dropped short, but to his relief the ball ended over rather than under the bar. Bradley then added another after a superb Brendan Rodgers block had denied Tallon one again. Glen rattled the post with the rebound before Bradley cut their losses and took the point.
Jerome McGuigan responded quickly with a lovely point at the end of a looped run, before a foul on Gerald Bradley gave Shane McGuigan an opportunity to slot another free as the game entered the final five minutes.
Sweetly struck efforts from Pádraig Cassidy and Brian Cassidy extended the Slaughtneil lead to nine before referee Brendan Quinn sounded the final whistle to see the county champions sit top of the league at the close of play.
Watty Graham's Glen: Callum Mullan-Young, Connor Carville, Philip O'Connell, Oran McGill, Declan McCusker, Conor Gallagher, Cathal Mulholland, Conor McDevitt, Jack Doherty, Michael Warnock, Emmet Bradley (c), Conor Convery, Danny Tallon, Connlan Bradley, Stephen O'Hara.
Emmet's Slaughtneil: Antoin McMullan, Paul McNeill, Brendan Rodgers, Peadar Kearney, Francis McEldowney, Chrissy McKaigue, Keelan Feeney, Patsy Bradley (c), Pádraig McGuigan, Pádraig Cassidy, Brendan McEldowney, Jerome McGuigan, Shane McGuigan, Sé McGuigan, Gerald Bradley.
Referee: Brendan Quinn (St Colm's Ballinascreen)